Mel & Using crabs as sturgeon bait?

Ken Jones

Staff member
Date: February 4, 2005
To: Pier Fishing In California Message Board
From: Mel
Subject: Crabs for sturgeon bait questions.

First off, are crabs carnivorous (sp)? I'm trying to figure how to keep the crabs off my line and still keep my bait on the bottom. I know about the regs as far as it being illegal to use under-size dungees and red rock crabs for bait. I would like to start using those little green ones as the last sturgeon I caught had a lot of them in it's belly. Thing is, if the crabs are going to tear them up anyway, why bother. Another thing is, if I went to a store and bought those little soft-shelled crabs can I use them for bait and will they live in salt water? I'm going to start trying to forage and turn over rocks for sturgeon bait and some spots I go to don't have rocks. I guess you can say that I'm always looking for an "edge" when fishing. I don't know if it's ok to introduce another species of crabs into the bay if I picked them up at the market.

Posted by vitafish

Crabs are carnivores and probably cannibalistic, too. Opportunistic feeders who take what they can get, wherever.

Posted by pescare

You mean cannibalistic, right? If they weren't carnivorous there would be no issue. Yeah, they will eat each other but I don't know if they would last longer on a hook than a ghost shrimp would. Not sure about the soft-shells, I don't think there is anything specific in the regs about it, but you certainly can't introduce non-native species and using live ones for bait may be considered doing that.

Posted by blahblahblah

"First off, are crabs carnivorous (sp)?" Yes, they are, at least many of the kinds present locally are. If they weren't they wouldn't take any interest in your bait of fish or worms or shrimp and such. They will happily eat other members of their own species, too. There are crabs that just eat stuff like algae though, I think, but you wouldn't have to worry about those.

"if I went to a store and bought those little soft shelled crabs can I use them for bait and will they live in salt water?" I'm not sure which ones you mean. But live crabs would probably be as expensive as other popular sturgeon baits, wouldn't they? I don't fish for sturgeon, but unless those crabs were fabulously better bait, I don't see why you'd bother with them.

"going to start trying to forage and turn over rocks for sturgeon bait" Just make sure you put them back gently. This will help a lot with keeping these areas full of fish-attracting life instead of barren. And if you catch something from under a rock but decide not to keep it, put the rock back first, then put the critter next to it and let it crawl under. Otherwise you might crush it with the rock.

"I don't know if it's ok to introduce another species of crabs into the bay if I picked them up at the market." No. If it is a non-native species, definitely not. Even if it's a native, locally occurring species, I think it's technically illegal because of the whole transport of live fish thing in the fishing regs. You'd probably do better with what the fish usually eat, and locally collected and either live or fresh dead anyway.
Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns, Driven time and again off course ...

Posted by Daniel E.

Crazy left field bait. Just something to get your mind thinking. I have a friend that makes some strange catfish bait and catches huge catfish on this stuff. And its just a thought about bottom feeders. And if you were to try it don't tell anyone you heard it from me. He makes bread dough just like you were going to make a loaf of bread but don't cook it. Then he takes Jello cherry flavored and adds that in and then the top secret is mint flavored cod liver oil. He catches the giants on this stuff. I have never tried it and I don't really cat fish so I have no need for any of this kind of fishing. He puts a big ball the size of golf ball on a huge treble hook. I've seen him with some big fish in the 50 pound range and always catches two to three of the big boys. This stuff really works for catfish so why not a dino. You just never know what the dino likes. If you want to be a different fish you have to get out of the school.

Subject: Posted by mel

Guess I used the wrong word. I meant if they ate each other. Know what I mean? I want to use crabs for bait but my thinking was that why use them if they would just get torn up by other crabs anyway. I thought that if I used them whole and kept them alive by attaching a hook tied onto it instead of through it, it would be deadly sturgeon bait. I hate fishing where there's a lot of crabs and it just seemed like a pretty good solution.

Posted by fishnchips

Hooking those crabs...all spots I use are on the back of the crab. You can hook their back leg in what would seem to be the thigh, or even close to the edge from the bottom up through their main shell. Do it close to the edge, and it should stay alive...that's why they call it fishin' not catchin'..........good ol' fishnchips!

Posted by Daniel E.

I knew just what you were saying. You want to fight fire with fire. And that is a great idea with the crabs. But if I was a dino and I was swimming along the bottom and there are crabs crawling all over the place day in and day out and your just sick of them. And every time you find a meal you have to fight them off kind of like ants at a picnic. Now your upset and you just eat a few to just get rid of them because they’re crawling all over your meal. I was just saying that maybe something that has never been tried before might be something to look at.

Posted by StripeSideChaser

Blahblahblah U don't fish for sturgeon? U ought to try it!

Posted by mel

No, don't turn him out. Heed my warning!

Posted by blahblahblah

Ha! Through rain, sleet or snow, my ho better have my ghost shrimp. Not half, not some, but all my bait. Apologies to Flyguy. Seriously, though, little danger of me picking up the sturgeon thing. I don't fish for bat rays, either, though that may or may not come. I guess the sturgeon thing also has a lot to do with how few of them there are and how heavy the pressure on them is. Plus it's like the salmon thing — if fishing for salmon means I have to deal with Pacifica Pier madness, forget it. Give me jacksmelt on my own terms over salmon or sturgeon with the crowd. So, though I respect what the sturgeon guys here do, it's not my thing.
Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns, Driven time and again off course ...

Posted by sethook

The sturgeon population is healthy (not few). And there's no pressure on the sturgeon as they're smart fish and can spit the hook in a second before the fisherman even noticing a bite in the first place. They also throw tricks at you to unhook themselves or cut your mainline once you got them hooked. That includes rolling over, going around structures/pilings, and last but not least the aerodynamics ;)

Posted by blahblahblah

False. Simply not true to say the population is plentiful compared to where it ought to be and historically has been. There is lots of information out there, and very easy to find. I'm not some kind of fishing prude — I do fish for cabezon and rockfish, after all — but people should at least make informed decisions about what they fish for. By "pressure" I did not mean physical pressure on the point of the hook. I meant that they are highly sought after. I'm not sure what their behavior when hooked has to do with anything.
Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns, Driven time and again off course ...